Thursday, April 2, 2015

Life in a time of ECG, 2am - April 3rd, 2015

I was awakened early this morning by voices in the next apartment. Two women, a mother and daughter murmuring in some distress that hadn't quite risen to screams. I had no sense of time. My phone had finally run out of battery some hours earlier.
The women were slapping their chale wotes against the wall (Or floor - I couldn't tell which).
I thought they were fighting some cockroach infestation or something, but the beating of their chale wote was all wrong -- less Brownian, more rhythmic.
At first the mumurs made no sense -- Or Perhaps I wasn't quite awake yet. But something about it woke me up -- kept me up.
So I lay there, my skin clammy from perspiration, staring at the ceiling, one arm over my forehead, listening in,
Then the woman said to the girl, "Ka hu" (Hurry up).
It was strained but said without panic.
Bth women are quite large, so regrettably I wasn't going to get an accurate sense of urgency as she lumbered, more than run through her darkened apartment. I could hear everything, courtesy of the thin celement-block walls dividing our apartments. I could tell which room she was in, the thump and thud of her moving awkwardly in pitch blackness from room to room and the sound of mosquito doors opening and closing.
Finally she emerged outside her front door, and shouted, to no one in particular, "Ogya!". First almost in conversation voice, then louder. She was still waking up, still getting into character.
It took me about 10 full seconds to make sense of what was really going on. The slapping of chale wote against walls and floors on a blackened night without power, two women in frenzied activity at what I later gathered was 2:30am. "OGYA!"...
Fire! ... FIRE!
I leapt from my bed, threw on some clothes and run to my bathroom and grabbed the bucket of water I had in the corner. My senses now fully alert.
I could still hear the talking, the girl had returned to the scene, and was saying in Twi, of her neighbors in our horseshoe of apartment buildings, courtesy of the lack of response to her calls, 'It seems they have all gone out'.
She says this in a matter of fact kind of tone, also without panic.
I got outside, and see several of my of neighbors emerging from their rooms. There was smoke everywhere, and the acrid smell of something artificial recently burnt.
The women emerged eventually, saw the crowd and announced the fire had been put out.
It must have been a candle, left on through out the night, or a smoldering edge of a mosquito coil.
From snatches of the conversation between the mother and my land lady, The Bible had caught fire first, and either spread to other things, or burned violently enough to give them real concern.
Having confirmed they would not need it, I carried my bucket of water back to my bathroom, and returned to bed, too awake to simply fall back to sleep, and wondering if the fire was truly out, or if some burning embers might reignite; the remainder of the Book of Revelation perhaps. Could I indeed close my eyes and sleep or could that cause a raging inferno that might trap me behind a wall of flames?

I must have been more tired than I felt, because I never got an answer to my own question.
Instead I woke up to my alarm clock, noted that the power was back, and begun wondering if I had really experienced what had happened or had been delirious from the heat and simply had a really vivid dream...